Obama doubles down on solar, energy efficiency in climate push

 

President Obama will announce Friday that more than 300 private and public sector leaders are committing to up their use of solar power to help U.S. communities cut carbon pollution and fight climate change.

Last month the administration called on governments and businesses to increase solar deployment, and altogether more than 300 retailers, food services, hospitality, multifamily housing, cities, school districts, and more are announcing new commitments Friday.

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The move is further proof that the administration won't back down on its pledge to not only act if Congress won't, but to instill Obama's second-term climate change legacy. 

On Tuesday, the administration kicked off it's week of climate and clean energy events with the release of its third national climate report, which confirmed that the drastic impacts of climate change are affecting every region of the United States.

And Friday morning Obama ends the week in Mountain View, Calif., at a Wal-Mart store, where he will announce that the company has committed to doubling its on-site solar energy projects at its U.S. stores, Sam's Clubs, and distribution centers by 2020. 

To support the demand for a growing solar industry, there must be a skilled workforce, said White House climate and energy adviser Dan Utech. He says that's why the Department of Energy will announce support for community college training programs in 49 states to help 50,000 workers find employment in the solar industry by 2020.

The DOE and the Department of Housing and Urban Development will partner to help advance educational opportunities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, the administration said. 

To keep the ball rolling, Obama will also announce $2 billion in energy efficiency investments for federal buildings, adding to the $2 billion already in place.

DOE will also issue its final energy efficiency conservation standards on electric motors, and another for walk-in coolers and freezers. The standards are expected to cut carbon pollution by roughly 158 metric tons through 2030, and save consumers over $26 billion on their energy bills. 

The clean energy push by the administration comes as the Senate is struggling to pass a bill aimed at energy efficiency itself. 

Possible votes on Keystone XL, natural gas exports, and the administration's carbon regulations, however, may kill the bill. 

Despite severe push back from Republicans in Congress, the administration is moving full-steam ahead on its climate and energy initiatives. 

One senator said the administration without a doubt has "upped its game" on the climate change front, which the new set of solar and energy efficiency initiatives are meant to help mitigate.